Monday, May 23, 2011

Goaldiggers - 2011-05-22

I went into the game tonight with a big boost of confidence from yesterday's tournament. I knew it'd be faster paced, and be more wide open, but I was prepared. I left everything the same way as yesterday. I started out playing well. I helped generate a big scoring chance, had a great shot on net from right in the slot, and it felt like I wasn't being moved from inside the slot. Their goalie was big though. He covered up a lot of the lower part of the net, and that is where goals go in at my level.

As always, the Goaldiggers have defensemen who like to jump up in the play, and it was happening more frequently tonight than normal. I'd stay at the blue line when I recognized it and tried to cover for them. With it being 0-0 in the second, they caught me on the blue line and got past me. I back checked as hard as I could and dove to at least make his shot somewhat more difficult. Unfortunately he went down, and it hurt our goalie. The shooter missed on his penalty shot but the damage was done. They scored 3 quick goals, and that just turned the game around. We ended up losing by two goals.

I skated and moved well, but I didn't get as many scoring chances as I would have liked. I made a bonehead play where I just through the puck out of my own zone that is still giving me nightmares. I need to recognize to still just slow down and take my time.

I'm starting to get a cold or something, and I believe it is from not enough rest, or allergies. I'm honestly not sure which. I've skated 3 days in a row, and that usually spells trouble for your health in general. I played 5 times in 5 nights last weekend, so I assume it is just rest. I've got a few days off and will be using them to relax and start to get over whatever it is I have.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

3 on 3 Studio Ice session - 2011-05-21

I really love doing 3 on 3 or 4 on 4. That is how I learned how to play inline hockey, so it just seems a lot more simple to me. I don't get a chance to do it often, so when a friend asked me if I wanted to do this, I didn't even hesitate. I should have though because it means I would be playing three nights in a row.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, I was awesome. I played better than I thought I could. It seemed that I was able to just dictate the pace of the game. I know it is studio ice, but if I can go from one goal line to the other, it is going to make me feel really good. I played again with a player from the Ironman tournament who I really like playing with. It seems if I can hit him with a pass, he always gets a decent scoring chance off.

I had one play where I picked up the puck in the slot, and skated around a defensemen who poked it lose, but I was able to kick it back up into my skates and keep going, through the other defense's legs and then I scored. I didn't realize I did it until someone told me that I did it. I never try that sort of thing because it just never works for me.

So why so different? I can think of a variety of reasons. I got my skates sharpened and for the first time in a year, they feel like they were sharpened the way I like them. Despite going to the same place that always used to do them, they've felt different every time. I switched the pattern on my stick from the Sakic to the Igilna. I did it for a few reasons. I knew I'd be playing defense and the square blade is better for board work, and I haven't been happy with how I've been handling the puck lately. Of course the biggest difference is the studio ice. It doesn't take very long for me to get up to speed, so a few strides and I'm at the other side of the ice. Very different, but it requires a lot of stopping and starting. It was good for endurance, and I felt outstanding after the skate.

Franklin Park Scrimmage 2011-05-20

It has been a long time since I've been to one of these scrimmages. It usually is a really good pace. There's players just above my skill level and usually one or two that are just outstanding.

The last couple of times I've been there though, including tonight, the skill was probably too much for me. There were quite a few good guys out there who could really move the puck. I unfortunately didn't play so well. I missed a lot of passes and got out of position quickly. I've been doing that a lot. I want to get down low more and help the defense out but I go to low, and leave the point wide open. It is becoming something I need to watch.

I had one or two ok shots at the goalie, but most of the time, our side had a hard time penetrating the zone, so our offense wasn't happening. I did play center a few shifts and I felt I did really well. It seemed that there was one big guy that I was able to throw off his game just a tiny bit. Considering how talented he was, I felt that was a solid accomplishment.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Over the past 18 months, life has changed dramatically for me. I've taken on more responsibilities, and as a result, I haven't been able to prepare for my games in my normal way. When I wasn't working I was able to, and I felt my performance just skyrocket, so I do think it makes a difference.

I bring this up after the two tournaments because you really can't go through your routine. You're not at home, you can't pack your bag, or listen to the music the same way you normally would on the way to the rink. It throws you off.

I've been working on developing my routine again, and it is starting to come back. It starts with food. I like to have just some noodles fried in a pan with some olive oil and garlic. Occasionally I'll throw some chicken in there if I haven't eaten well all day. Shortly after, I brush my teeth and wash my face. It just feels like it helps me breathe or something out there. I usually get dressed to get to the rink after that. Sometimes it just may not happen. If my equipment needs to be put together (jerseys, equipment back in the bag, retape sticks), I take care of it next. Everything gets set by the door, ready to go. I spend some time with the dog before I leave. Usually we rough house a little bit, but sometimes we only have time for a short walk. By then I do a double check of everything, and I'm ready for my trip to the rink.

But I guess really preparation always starts after the last game. I always wash my jerseys, socks and anything else that is easy to wash. I let them air dry, and that all gets done right away, allowing me to play the next night if necessary. I then put the skates in the right spot to make sure they dry and don't rust, and let the equipment out of my bag so that it is mostly dry for the next day. It really hate putting on wet stuff.

Sometimes I can go through all of this, others I can't. It is just interesting to see how it impacted me the past couple of weeks.

Goaldiggers Game - 2011-05-17

This was the first game for the Goaldiggers after our Kalamazoo trip. It is the start of our new season, and I knew that meant we wouldn't get off to a slow start as our team usually does after long layoffs. The problem this week is that we were missing our two best players. This caused a real lack of offense on our team. I think we entered the zone once in the first period. It wasn't good. The opponents were one of the top teams in our league.

So we had 10 guys again, meaning we were only rolling with two forward lines. I knew I could keep up simply because my conditioning felt good the night before. I got a lot of extra ice time throughout the night, and I was fine with it. I still feel like a greedy player when I do it though. I used to be able to play an entire game and not come off the ice, and I'm trying to get back to that level again.

The first half of the game was bad. We couldn't generate anything, and our forwards were just sloppy. I think we started playing better when we upped the pressure on our fore-check. We'd force them to make passes they didn't want, and they would either miss the pass, or put that player in a position where he didn't have much help. Our defense is outstanding, and I think that if we can keep it to 2 on 2 situations, we'll come out ahead frequently. We really play better when we have our guys spread out.

Still, we lost 5-0, but we gave it a good effort. Missing 3 guys, and two being your best players is tough.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 USA Hockey Adult Classics - Kalamazoo

The Goaldiggers participated in a USA Hockey tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was looking forward to this one because I really like this team, and I needed a break from life in general. We brought most of our squad, but were still a little short handed, having only 4 defensemen, and 6 forwards.

The drive up was easy for me because I had to take the dog to my parents, which was about half way. I spent some time with my parents, and then had another hour and half drive up to the hotel. I miss the long drives with nothing but hockey on my mind. It really helped me focus.
I got to the hotel, relaxed with the team for an hour or two and went to the rink, less than a quarter mile from the hotel. We were playing in Wings Stadium. The Kalamazoo K-Wings play there I believe. Seating about 5,000 people, it reminded me of my first hockey game that I watched which took place in that rink. I never played in a rink that big, and with so many advertisements everywhere. The ice was awful because of how fast we had to get on the ice after the resurfacing. What was interesting to me was how the seats made a huge difference. They were black, so when the puck would go above the boards, you couldn't find it. It is something I guess I take for granted. It was also interesting to see how much tension was in the net. You always see pros shoot the puck so hard that it hits the back of the net and bounces out before it hits the ice. Those nets were so tight that the puck flew out even on my shot!

The team we played was very good. They knew how to play hockey and play positional hockey. If a defensemen went in, the winger came out and covered for them. It really helped me realize how important it is to be able to play all positions. But their cycle was great. They had a variety of shots right in the slot, and our goalie stood on his head. We lost the game 6-3.

After that game, we had the night to ourselves, and the team went out drinking. Probably not the greatest idea, but that's the game. I got up late the next day, feeling dehydrated and just awful. No food, little water, tired, no shower. I wasn't very fresh. I hate playing that early in my day. It was clear that our entire team wasn't ready for the game. Most were hung over, and not skating. I tried my best to keep up, and cover for my team who weren't ready. The other team was just a pure hockey team. They were fast, talented, strong, had great team work, and ultimately just a good group of guys. Not one of our players had a complaint about them. I felt that I was better this game. My skating was solid, my endurance was there, no tightness, but my lack of speed and strength made me useless against the opponents. I couldn't clear the puck, I couldn't get a shot off only because they were on me so bad. We lost 8-0.

The team was relatively silent after that game. Perhaps they were tired, but after how we were handled the first two games, it was clear we were in the wrong division. I believe we were just bummed about the hockey in general. We had a team lunch, and I went back to the hotel, and took a nap. Most of the team went drinking.

I went into the third game in less than 24 hours ready. I had a clear mind, was well hydrated, well rested. The rest of the team was hammered. One player got ready for the game and was almost ready to hit the ice when he realized he forgot to put on his pants. In the game he would later go into a Gretzky pose and fall over. I myself felt I played very well. I was a little gassed towards the end, as I still feel I am not conditioned for this yet. I had one solid hit on a player to get the puck out of the zone, and broke up a couple of decent passes. In the second, I scored a goal from the high slot. I had used the defensemen as a screen and put it through his legs, and then it went right through the goalies legs. I was a little surprised it went in. I was hoping to just get it to the net, and have a crashing forward get the rebound, but I'll take the goal. It believe it was the start of a 3 goal run for us within a few minutes, so that was nice. The other team started making a comeback. I made a great defensive play to tie up a center man sitting in the slot about to get a shot off, with the goalie out of position that would have made it 5-4. But instead, we would go on to win 6-3.

Going 1-2 in the weekend isn't good, but considering the players we were playing against, and blood alcohol content level of the team, I think we did ok. It was an amazing experience, and really unique playing in an actual stadium. I'll have a variety of posts over the next few days about the trips, but this is just about the games.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ironman Tournament

I felt kind of rushing getting to the rink. It was requested that I get there an hour before the game, but between the dog, and getting a nap in, it didn't happen. Still, I was the 3rd guy there, so I didn't feel bad about showing up when I did.

It turns out, I've only played with the goalie. One guy was the teacher from a class I was in, another guy I practiced with once or twice in the past, and the other two, I've never met. None of us have ever really played together so I expected us to have chemistry problems.

We had four games, all evenly spaced apart, so we were not waiting too long, and never hitting the ice really fast. Six teams meant we didn't face one of them. This year, they mixed all of the divisions, and genders because they didn't have enough sign ups. This meant that frequently I'd be playing against females.

The first game I watched, I felt we may have had a good chance at beating both teams.

I knew our team was more talented than last year, and I'm always optimistic. Our first game gave us no reason to not be optimistic. We won 4-0, and the other team didn't have any shots. It was nice to just see how each other works, and their abilities. Our D jumped up towards the end as they started to get bored. I burned myself out early, forgetting about subs and I had three other games that night. My first goal, I was coming up the left wing, and pushing the d-man back. I had tried to slow up to give up a pass, but I said forget it, and just shot it. I had a great shot from about 20-25 feet out, and it went in short side. I was surprised it went in, as I didn't get as much on it as I wanted. It was good for my confidence though. The second goal, I pounded in from right at the top of the crease after the other winger through it on net.

Our second game was a bit of a blow out. They were good friends with the goalie, I had played with a few of them before, so they knew each other's weaknesses. We lost 5-1, but it could have been worse. There was a lot of good joking around and such, so once they became in control, we were just out there to have fun. I played fairly well, and kept my head up as I knew there was a lot of drinking going on all night as well as tired players.

I didn't know much about our third team, and I easily got confused about their players to watch. They beat us, but I believe that had our team not been so exhausted, we would have beat them. With about 10 seconds left, down by one, I knocked the puck out of our zone, and raced up the boards trying to tie it up. My goal was just forward, and cut to the middle to bang the goal in. I thought I had gotten past the defenseman, when all of a sudden, I got hammered into the boards harder than I can remember. I was fine, but I fell to the ice the puck and my stick kept going, and I saw the clock with about 8 seconds left, took a look where the winger and center was, and knew that the game was over. It was definitely a checking penalty, but because of the nature of the tournament, it wasn't called. I didn't play as well as I could have.

Our fourth game, I felt I lost for our team. We tied 2-2, but I feel both of their goals were on me. We were up 2-0, and I know our team was gassed. I knew I had nothing left when in our D zone, I had the puck. I through it up towards the center of the blue line, where I didn't see anyone to just get it out, and maybe an icing. The puck came out but then a player brought it in. I saw it go out and the referee was behind me. It lead to a goal, but still, I should have made a better choice. If it wasn't clear enough to leave the zone, then it wasn't the right play. The second goal was scored while I was still at their blue line because I was too lazy/tired to get back.

Two goals and an assist isn't bad, but I needed to be in better shape. I really showed how bad my conditioning was tonight, and it was embarrassing. I was too stupid and burned myself out after the first game.

I had a blast though, and can't wait for next year. I will be in better shape, and better prepared.